I recently started a beginners yoga class, despite not being a beginner. Many years ago I practiced Ashtanga yoga and I loved the experience of the mindful connection between breath and body and building strength and appreciation in myself as a result. My body now is much older, stiffer and a lot more creaky so it was with some trepidation I decided to start it over again.
Part of my decision was also rooted in an increased awareness or need to prioritise myself. To make time in my week to just be me, and be with me. To let go of all the responsibilities of organising and caring for other people and take the time to give to myself, in order to nurture my physical and emotional well-being.
So I was more than a little surprised when, lying in Savasana at the end of an hour of Vinyasa practice I started to cry. I’m definitely one to be emotional, especially lately, but I’m definitely not one to openly cry in public. So there I am, lying flat under a cosy blanket, my head on a soft pillow, the room dimmed and silent except for slight shuffling from the other ladies, some beautiful relaxation music and the voice of my instructor leading us through the final relaxation sequence.
“Thank yourself for taking the time to come to yoga tonight,” she said “thank yourself for looking after yourself.” As I internally said thank you tears immediately sprung into my eyes. I tried to breathe as steadily as I could and not let them spill past my closed lids so no-one would notice. Embarrassed and ashamed about this sudden and unexpected flood of feeling. I don’t think anyone noticed and I managed to wipe them away before sitting up again.
In my pieces Parts and Can your inner child come out and play? I wrote about my inner me, the much smaller and very vulnerable child version of me and I know that it was here that the internal thank you and the tears originated. Without sounding too weird, she felt seen and honoured, and she thanked me for that. By taking the time to do something for myself, to meet a personal need and focus on my body and breath I cared for all of me. Not just the outer functional, driven part but the deep sensitive and often neglected part.
Clinical psychologist and registered yoga teacher Melody Moore, Ph.D., says that it is common. “The body remembers everything and holds unprocessed tension.” “When we move our bodies and breathe, it gives us an opportunity to work out that tension. As it releases, so too does the emotional story or baggage.”
Yoga is also a time to get out of our heads and “drop down into our bodies,” says licensed psychotherapist Mariana Caplan, Ph.D., author of Yoga and Psyche. “The body contains the memory of the whole life we have lived,” so many emotions—sadness, fear, anger, arousal—can pop up in class when you’re not as focused on your day to day demands, she explains.
It helped to read these testimonies and to know that it is totally normal. This is something I know I can also experience during intense play with Cuiplash, particularly if the intention is there to break me down and create catharsis. I can see the similarities and how it makes sense that in stopping being ‘busy’ with the daily demands, and in having my mind quietened by just breathing and experiencing my body I can open and create the space for emotions, and tears, to rise and be processed.
It was quite a profound experience, although surprising, and confirms that I am on the right path. I’ll just pack tissues next week, as well as ask Cuiplash for some more therapeutic spankings when I need them…